Bournemouth O2 Academy

The Damned

It’s a freezing cold February evening but that hasn’t deterred a huge crowd attending a show of a band who one can happily describe as “Punk Rock Royalty”. Yes, the Damned are in town and promoting a new LP to boot. “The Evil Spirits Tour” is well underway and tonight rolls into Bournemouth.

Tonight’s support needs no introduction – one “Slim Jim Phantom” (Stray Cats). Jim (and band) conspire to entertain us with some choice covers and a smattering of his Stray Cats back catalogue. From memory, they open with “Rumble in Brighton” which gets this crowd onside immediately. A paled back “C’mon Everybody” isn’t far off the mark either, despite Jim not quite hitting the high notes. He banters between song and also gives way to his band on occasional vocal duties. “Runaway Boys” has this crowd singing the chorus while “Rock This Town” sounds as good as ever. Jim’s stand up drumming style is great to watch and he looks like he’s still having fun after all these years. At just 30 minutes though I feel they could have played so much more. That said, it’s a great warm-up for the main event. They exit the stage to great applause.

Slim Jim Phantom
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And so to the headliners. The Damned are in town to promote their new LP “Evil Spirits” and are greeted by a near sellout crowd. With the intro music out the way, they launch straight into “Wait For “The Blackout”. Tonight’s set is culled from some early releases including “The Black Album” & “Strawberries” featuring returning bassist Paul Gray – it’s as if he’s never been away. “Lively Arts” follows and then “Silly Kids Games”. Then comes a newie. The Captain sets the scene as they launch into “Standing On The Edge of Tomorrow”. I have to say (for me) it’s reminiscent of their “Phantasmagoria” era. That sound fills the room and they get a decent reception. Although Vanian doesn’t appear as energetic as I’ve seen him in gigs past, his voice is in decent nick as he removes his coat and patrols the stage. “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” allow some breathing space before “Anti Pope”, which is a wonderful prelude to the four classics in tonight’s set. “So Messed Up” is anything but before a rampant “New Rose” gets this eager crowd in full flow. “Love Song” then follows as they move into overdrive. Live fave “Stranger On The Town” then pales it back somewhat, but is no less enjoyable.

We get the customary “Eloise”, but for me it is lacklustre. Dave no longer hits the high notes on this classic track but one imagines it stays in the set for the purists. “Street of Dreams” gets them back on track and hasn’t dated, preceding the second newie of the night “Devil in Disguise”. Again that mid 80’s Damned sound comes to the fore once more. I just feel there’s something missing in Vanian’s voice tonight and his overall demeanour. However “Ignite” sounds great with crowd interaction before the Captain tells us the origin of “Dozen Girls”; about a lad at school who always had a way with the ladies, and how the Captain matched him once in The Damned! They depart on a rampant “Neat, Neat, Neat” and take the plaudits.

The Damned

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Loud cheers for an encore get their reward as one by one they return. They open with “Seagulls” then “Generals” follows. The title track off the new LP “Evil Spirits” is their penultimate track, again the Captain explains how there were “plenty of evil spirits around” during the making of the album. As is common these days they depart on “Smash It Up” (parts 1 and 2) and this crowd goes wild.

Despite us all thinking it’s the end they return for a one song encore. A cover this time which induces a huge singalong. It’s the classic Elton Motello song “Jet Boy, Jet Girl” whereupon Sensible takes main vocal duties. And that folks, was that. Another trip down memory lane (and for this reviewer) a few surprises. It really is time I summoned the Damned back catalogue sometime. The Captain leaves us in no doubt by proclaiming “you see, we’ve still got it” – and they most certainly have.

Set List
Introduction: The Planets – Mars, The Bringer of War – Gustav Holst
Wait For The Blackout
Lively Arts
Silly Kids Games
Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Under the Floor Again
So Messed Up
New Rose
Love Song
Stranger on the Town
Gun Fury (Of Riot Forces)
Eloise (Paul Ryan cover)
Street of Dreams
Devil in Disguise
Dozen Girls
Neat Neat Neat

Evil Spirits
Smash It Up (Parts 1 and 2)

Encore 2
Jet Boy, Jet Girl (Elton Motello cover)



Words by Ross A Ferrone
Pictures & Videos by David Chinery (Chinners)

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